Conventional methods of color specification demand a sample that is flat, uniformly colored, diffusely reflecting and opaque. Very many natural, processed and manufactured foods, on the other hand, are three-dimensional, irregularly shaped unevenly colored and translucent. Hence, spectrophotometers and tristimulus colorimeters can only be used for reliable and accurate color measurement in certain cases and under controlled conditions. These techniques are certainly unsuitable for specification of color patterning and other factors of total appearance in which, for example, surface texture and gloss interfere with the surface color. Hence, conventional techniques are more appropriate to food materials than to foods themselves. This paper reports investigations on the application of digital camera and screen technologies to these problems. Results indicated that accuracy sufficient for wide scale use in the food industry is obtainable. Measurement applications include the specification and automatic measurement and classification of total appearance properties of three-dimensional products. This will be applicable to specification and monitoring of fruit and vegetables within the growing, storage and marketing supply chain and to on-line monitoring. Applications to sensory panels include monitoring of color and appearance changes occurring during paneling and the development of physical reference scales based pigment chemistry changes. Digital technology will be extendable to the on-screen judging of real and virtual products as well as to the improvement of appearance archiving and communication.